All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.
Once a journalist, always a journalist, once a teacher always a teacher. Last night, my old journalist self beat the teacher self and off I went to experience history in the making.
I got a lesson on Korean civics through experiential learning.Experiential learning is essential to how we develop skills and knowledge. My favorite teaching and learning experiences are those that involve “ the process of actively exploring, doing and developing concepts”. Going outside with my students to touch and feel the snow, then coming back in, melting the snow and watching it change from solid to liquid is how I love to teach changes in matter.
So, integrating my “two selves”, I went outside to observe a peaceful and orderly demonstration demanding the resignation of Korean President, Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal involving her confidant Choi Soon-Sil. She is Korea’s 18th president and the first woman president. She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee who was president between 1963 and 1979.
Although Korea is an ancient nation, South Korea is a young democracy. The country has gone through various constitutional amendments and military governments since the end of the Korean War in 1953. In 1987, after the famous June demonstrations the ruling government was forced to finally hold elections. These elections brought about the major democratic reforms – part of the present system of government.
The march began at 5:30 pm in Gwanghwamun Square in the center of town. I watched the protesters as they walked 4- kilometer across central Seoul. I was not sure how far they would be walking or in which direction but it felt safe. Fortunately, I knew every area we went through.
Thousands of people marched down the streets old, young and younger, middle school, high school and university students and hundreds of families.
Students from middle school to college voiced their condemnation for their president who they believe allowed a close civilian friend to interfere with the affairs of the nation.
Parents were proudly teaching their children about the importance of having a voice in the process of their own future. It was touching to observe them taking pictures of their children holding anti-Park signs.
As everyone marched, they chanted “Park Geun-hye, step down” or “The owner of this country is the Korean people”.
Once darkness set in, the streets were covered in a golden glow. Thousands of people, held candles and chanted with a common voice in a peaceful civics lesson.